Some Want YouTube to Check Facts: A Fantastical Idea

January 12, 2022

I wanted to look up a function for the DaVinci Resolve “scripting” feature. I spotted a YouTube video about the subject. The information in the video was incorrect. Is Google responsible for this factual misstep? Is DaVinci’s owner Black Magic going to rush to the editing room to create an accurate programming video? Will DaVinci users revolt, hold a protest, burn a pile of Black Magic video switchers? Nope.

An Open Letter to YouTube’s CEO from the World’s Fact Checkers” states:

What we do not see is much effort by YouTube to implement policies that address the problem [Covid information]. On the contrary, YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and fundraise themselves. Current measures are proving insufficient. That is why we urge you to take effective action against disinformation and misinformation, and to elaborate a roadmap of policy and product interventions to improve the information ecosystem – and to do so with the world’s independent, non-partisan fact-checking organizations.

Okay, facts about Covid. How are those “facts” about Covid weathering the often conflicting flow of data? Government officials and Covid experts descend into primary school playground arguments. I love the use of visual aids too. What about the factual errors in many videos on YouTube? Who exactly is able to identify an error and take or recommend a specific action?

This is a fantastical idea, and it is one that may lead to online discussions, legal kerfuffles, and some videos being removed.

The notion of free hosting and streaming of videos means that unless YouTube gates the uploads or starts charging for storage and streaming, the volume is likely to overwhelm the world’s fact checkers. My hunch is that there are more wanna be YouTube stars than fact checkers. Perhaps Google’s stellar under content diving machine will automate the process using close enough for horse shoes methods? Perhaps will just hire an editorial team and operate in the manner of the late and much needed traditional newspaper industry despite the taint of yellow journalism, advertorials, hobby horses, and reportorial bias.

Net net: Nice letter but after a meeting the missive will be handed over to Google legal and PR. YouTube shall accept and stream as usual.

Stephen E Arnold, January 12, 2022


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